Author Archives: 1960s: Days of Rage

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage

Jack Kerouac and the Childish Art of Fantasy Football

“I have always had an uneasy and uncomfortable relationship with the work of Jack Kerouac. Even when I was what observers would have identified and described as an ‘impressionable’ youth prone to literary fads, carrying a battered copy of ‘On The Road’ in my limp, milky pale hand around with me, a battered copy that gained more visible prominence if it could be brandished within the promiscuous radius of half-closed, dreamy and cannabis occluded New Age girls’ eyes. I forced Kerouac’s faux hipster psychodramas and irresponsible frat boy antics down my throat, baulking on fayre that was trying too hard to be hip. …”
Football Paradise

Moment of Truth: What does it take to be a football manager?


Karl Robinson and Paul Warne let us into the emotional life of a professional football manager
“Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a football manager? Beyond simulation computer games, that is. A new podcast on BBC Sounds takes listeners into a world of sleepless nights, imposter syndrome and the obsessive behaviours of two managers in League One – the third tier of English men’s football. Moment of Truth follows Oxford United’s Karl Robinson and Rotherham United’s Paul Warne, who both agreed to wear microphones for the final stages of the 2021-22 season. …”
BBC (Video)

El Dorado: When Colombia Learned Money Talks In Football

“It’s hard to picture a time when being a professional footballer at the highest level did not mean astronomical wealth and lavish lifestyles. Yet, that was the reality for many of the world’s biggest stars in the early days of organised, professional football. There are bountiful stories of some of England’s biggest stars having to take summer jobs just to pay their bills in the early days as the Football Association and FIFA kept a tight lid on pay. Disgruntlement over finances was a common theme amongst players. It wasn’t exclusive to England either as Argentina was having its own issues with player wages in 1949. … They would soon find a home in, of all places, Colombia. …”
Longball Football

Sensible Transfers: Bayern Munich

“Domestically Bayern Munich are still dominant, having won another Bundesliga title in 2021/22. But elsewhere they are stuttering. They have made early wise signings with Mazraoui and Gravenberch from Ajax, but the big transfer news is that Lewandowski wants to leave. So how do you begin to replace the record-breaking-Pole? Written by Seb Stafford-Bloor, illustrated by Marco Bevilacqua.”
YouTube

Blood, sweat and speeding plastic: 48 hours at the foosball World Cup


“In his 1928 novel Nadja, French surrealism ace Andre Breton described the city of Nantes as ‘perhaps with Paris the only city in France where I have the impression that something worthwhile may happen to me’. To think that he was still a good 94 years away from having the chance to wander around the bowels of his local sports arena in a vain attempt to track down the anti-doping officials at the foosball World Cup. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Belgium’s Next Noa Lang: Three Breakout Stars

“Noa Lang is a sort of commodity who has lit up the league in his stint with the champions of Belgium. He formed dangerous partnerships with the likes of Bas Dost and Charles De Ketelaere and has become unplayable on his day. I think he knew that this season was himself ‘closing the curtain’ on his time in the Belgian Pro League, an utterly underrated first division which has been dominated by Club Brugge in recent years. It was primarily Noa Lang, not the managers — Ivan Leko, Philippe Clement and most recently Alfred Schreuder —  who stole the show and made the key interventions on the way to another championship. …”
Football Paradise

Prepare to fail: the transfer survival plan for new Premier League teams

“To this day Tony Khan thinks Fulham had a good transfer window in the summer of 2018. Which is sweet. The untrained eye might be tempted to regard the £100m spent on Jean Michaël Seri, André-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Alfie Mawson, Andre Schürrle and at least half a dozen others as one of the great spending failures of the modern Premier League era. Particularly when you consider what happened next: relegation with 26 points, three separate managers and a full-blown fistfight between Aleksandar Mitrovic and Aboubakar Kamara that apparently began during meditation in a team yoga session. …”
Guardian

Best Premier League Performances: No 24, Trent Alexander-Arnold for Liverpool v Leicester


“… It is a reflection of modern football that a full-back’s performance is spoken about in a purely attacking perspective — but Trent Alexander-Arnold gave a masterclass on the role on Boxing Day 2019 against Leicester City. December was the busiest month of Liverpool’s title-winning season. They played nine games across four competitions. Despite the schedule, Alexander-Arnold showed no signs of fatigue at the King Power Stadium. …”
The Athletic

Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini Acquitted of Fraud

“Sepp Blatter, the former president of FIFA, and his onetime ally Michel Platini were acquitted of fraud on Friday in the latest attempt by Swiss prosecutors to win a conviction in a sprawling, seven-year investigation into corruption at the highest levels of world soccer. The trial, held in the southern Swiss city of Bellinzona, was related to a $2 million payment arranged in 2011 by Blatter, who led world soccer’s governing body for 17 years, to Platini, a former France player who was at the time the president of European soccer’s governing body and a potential heir to Blatter as the most powerful executive in the sport. …”
NY Times

Noussair Mazraoui: Football’s Glorious Nonconformist

“Ajax full-back Noussair Mazraoui recently signed with Bayern Munich on a free transfer. He encapsulates everything we love about Ajax: determination against all odds, a pension for highwire-like acts on the sideline, and confidence to throw everything at the opponent. Nous will be missed in Amsterdam and his unique style will add something special to the German champions. …”
Football Paradise
W – Noussair Mazraoui

The Biggest Serie A Wins


“The biggest win in Serie A history remains Torino’s 10-0 destruction of Alessandria in May 1948. This was the era of the Grande Torino – the five-time champions of Italy (in successive seasons) and the backbone of the Italian national team. This legendary team scored 125 goals in Serie A 1947-48 – 49 more than any other team, while they won the league title by a massive 16 points despite playing in the two points for a win era. The 10-0 victory against Alessandria saw Ezio Loik score a hat-trick. …”
The Analyst

For Manchester City, Selling to Big Six Foes Is of Little Concern

Gabriel Jesus has signed for Arsenal and Raheem Sterling is almost certain to complete his anticipated move to Chelsea in the coming days. Both are intriguing transfers in and of themselves but, together, they represent something very unusual: players rarely move between Big Six Premier League clubs with all parties relatively satisfied with the deal. So what is Manchester City doing in allowing two regular first-team forwards to move to clubs that are, at least to an extent, direct rivals? …”
SI

Three Tales From the Transfer Market

“Let’s try something different in this week’s newsletter: A journey through modern soccer in three (vaguely related) stories. … 2. Lessons Do Not Get Learned. … Nobody watched Manchester United flailing in the Premier League and said: Yes, the issue here is the in-form left back. Nonetheless, the first signing of Manager Erik ten Hag’s tenure at Old Trafford was a left-back: Tyrell Malacia, to be exact, drafted in from the Dutch club Feyenoord. He will soon be joined, it seems, by Lisandro Martínez, an Argentine defender, and Christian Eriksen, a Danish midfielder, and Frenkie de Jong, currently with Barcelona, and possibly even the Brazilian forward Antony. …”
NY Times

Inside Monaco: Paul Mitchell, their revamped talent factory and a team that runs and runs


“Inside the auditorium of Monaco’s €55 million training base, the club’s sporting director Paul Mitchell reflects on his first days in the job in June 2020. This was amid the COVID-19 crisis that handicapped European football’s capacity to spend in the transfer market, as commercial, broadcasting and ticketing income all took a nosedive. Owing to the pandemic, building work had slowed down on the expensive regeneration of the club’s training facility and the perception, at least externally, was that Monaco had lost their way since lifting the Ligue 1 title in 2017, when they also reached the Champions League semi-finals during the same season under coach Leonardo Jardim. …”
The Athletic

Sensible Transfers: Tottenham Hotspur


Antonio Conte has improved Tottenham Hotspur enormously, so much so that they finished in the Champions League places. With that comes the allure of better players. Conte improved each player individually, and Spurs have already made moves in this transfer window. So whilst more new signings aren’t necessary, there are some sensible ones. Written by Seb Stafford-Bloor, illustrated by Marco Bevilacqua.
YouTube

Best Premier League performances: No 38, Steven Gerrard for Liverpool v Manchester United


“… Close your eyes and think of Steven Gerrard at his irrepressible, indomitable best. It’s a European night, isn’t it? If it’s not Anfield under the floodlights, it’s probably May 2005 in the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul. Or it’s the FA Cup final at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium a year later, lashing home two equalisers, one of them in stoppage time from 30 yards out. …”
The Athletic

A.C. Monza


Associazione Calcio Monza is a professional football club that is based in Monza, Lombardy, Italy. The team plays in the Serie A, the first tier of Italian football, following promotion in the 2021–22 Serie B season. The club was founded in 1912 as Monza F.B.C. and on multiple occasions in the 1970s came close to promotion to the Serie A. Between the 2000s and 2010s, they faced financial issues and were declared bankrupt twice, in 2004 and 2015. Following Silvio Berlusconi‘s 2018 takeover of the club, Monza returned to the Serie B in 2020 after a 19-year absence and reached promotion to Serie A for the first time in 2022. …”
Wikipedia

Why Chelsea want to sign Raphinha and what Leeds star would bring to Tuchel’s side


“As far as statements of intent go, it’s hard to beat splashing out on a fast, skilful Brazilian winger to get the juices of a fanbase flowing. Todd Boehly has taken a remarkable amount of responsibility upon his own shoulders in Chelsea’s first transfer window under his joint ownership with Clearlake Capital, liaising directly with head coach Thomas Tuchel to draw up a list of priority targets and leading negotiations himself. Winning the race to sign Raphinha — although Barcelona appeared to be making moves yesterday — would be an eye-catching start. …”
The Athletic

Auxerre – Are They Worth Replacing Saint-Ètienne in Ligue 1?


“The second most successful French team of all time seemed set to stay in Ligue 1 next year, after a late goal nabbed a draw against Nantes on the final day of the season. However, in the relegation playoff, Saint Etienne fell on penalties in the second leg to Auxerre, a team who themselves have historical success to boot. They may have resided in the second tier since 2012, but this is still a side that got into the Champions League group stage in 2010. With one league title to their name, coming in 1996 with Laurent Blanc in defence, Auxerre have waited 10 years to return to their rightful home. The political nightmare of legendary coach Guy Roux warring with Jean-Pierre Papin is behind them, and 64-year-old Jean-Marc Furlan is at the helm. …”
Breaking the Lines (Video)

Concerns, Complaints and a Suicide Shake Chelsea F.C.


“Month after stressful month, the problems mounted inside Chelsea F.C. Almost a dozen employees of the club’s marketing department said they had come to expect being berated by their boss in front of colleagues. Others said they had faced his wrath in more humiliating ways, ordered to stand up and leave staff meetings on a single man’s word. The pressure took its toll. By last year, multiple Chelsea employees had vanished for weeks, or sometimes months, of medical leave. At least 10 staff members — from a department that employs about 50 people — had left the club altogether, one employee said. Then, in early January, a well-liked former staff member killed himself. …”
NY Times

Fred Pentland: Athletic Bilbao’s English coach who changed the face of Spanish football


Fred Pentland was invited back to Athletic when they hosted Chelsea in his honour at San Mames in 1959
“It may be 100 years since he first set foot in the city, but mention the name Fred Pentland and Athletic Bilbao fans will fondly recall the legend of the Englishman with a trademark bowler hat and cigars. ‘El Bombin’ wasn’t the first English coach to lead the Basque club but he did leave an unprecedented mark on their history and can also claim to have played a key role in the evolution of Spanish football. …”
BBC
W – Fred Pentland
1930s Month: Pentland’s Lions of Bilbao

Why Barcelona’s ground is called ‘Camp Nou’ not ‘Nou Camp’


“Less than three weeks working for The Athletic have been enough for me to raise an existential doubt that has nagged me since the day I set foot on English soil. ‘Why is Barcelona’s stadium widely regarded as the ‘Nou Camp’ in England?’ It sounded really wrong in my head. The Athletic editors listened to my enquiry and actually gave some thought to that. Barcelona’s home has been popularly referred to Camp Nou since it opened on September 24, 1957. However, there was a long path to that becoming its official name. …”
The Athletic (Video)

A Soccer Team’s Success Puts Its Small Arab Village on the Map



“… His community’s soccer team, Maccabi Bnei Reineh, did not exist until six years ago. Less than two years ago, in September 2020, it was still a largely unknown club from a small Arab village of 18,000 people near Nazareth, preparing for yet another season in the Israeli fourth division. Now, after three promotions in quick succession, the name Maccabi Bnei Reineh is on everyone’s lips in Israeli soccer. The team’s success, to the surprise of even the village’s own residents, has put its community firmly on the map. …”
NY Times

“Nothing short of the end of the earth will prevent this from going through…”


In the 1980s Oxford United and Reading FC of the English Football League almost became the same club. Robert Maxwell, one-time editor of The Daily Mirror, was the owner of Oxford and had the ill-conceived idea to merge the two rivals. This is the story of how it wouldn’t work out. Written by David Goldblatt, illustrated by Philippe Fenner.”
YouTube

Paulo Dybala and the Problem With Italy



“Paulo Dybala did not, particularly, look as if he were ready to say goodbye. As the lights at the Allianz Stadium in Turin, his home for the last seven years, flashed and flickered, and Tina Turner’s ‘The Best’ began its crescendo, he started to cry. Not in the sense of a single, elegant tear rolling down the cheek. He sobbed. He racked. His chest heaved as he gulped for air. …”
NY Times

Premier League five-a-side teams: who would you pick for your club?


“… We tasked our Premier League reporters with picking a five-a-side team from the club that they cover. There are some obvious picks — and some less obvious ones. The rules: *The ball is not allowed over head height  *Slide tackles are forbidden *Each team must have a goalkeeper and they can’t come out of the area *Outfield players are not allowed in the area *They can score from anywhere outside the area. Here we go then. Please feel free to disagree wholeheartedly with their picks in the comments section…”
The Athletic

What is the secret to man-management in football?


“The Portsmouth team that Harry Redknapp led to the Premier League in 2003 was a curious beast.”
“Managers devise training sessions, draw up complex tactical plans, manage multimillion-pound budgets, field challenging questions from the world’s press, shoulder the pressure of the club’s fanbase – and yet, when it comes to managing human beings, some of them struggle. Why? Because relationships are complicated. Players have distinct personalities, shaped by their unique upbringings, and they have egos and entourages. The best managers find the right balance between being tough on players and sensitive to their needs. …”
Guardian

Newcastle and Stepping Stone Players


“Newcastle United want Champions League football. But they are a long way from achieving that with the current squad of players. However, would Champions League quality players want to join Newcastle in their current state? So, how do they make that jump? With Stepping-Stone players. Seb Stafford-Bloor explains what they are, Marco Bevilacqua illustrates.”
YouTube

Mexico World Cup squad prediction 2.0


“This past FIFA window for Mexico was replete with many of the same narratives that dominated their World Cup qualifying campaign. Goals were scarce, the team’s supposed stars underperformed and the Fuera Tata chants were heard in matches that were played both in the United States and in Mexico. Each one of those realities will shape Mexico’s run up to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Head coach Tata Martino must solve El Tri’s goal drought, and perhaps recall Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernadez, Mexico’s all-time leading scorer, in order to do so. …”
The Athletic

More than a national pastime


“Recent contests over the presidency of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) have been keenly contested, with good reason. Nigeria’s size and football pedigree (the Nigerian men’s national team has qualified for the World Cup six times and won the African Cup of Nations three times) mean occupants of the NFF presidency have frequently used this position as a launch pad for more senior positions in both the continental (CAF) and global (FIFA) football governing bodies. Amaju Pinnick, the current president, is no exception. …”
Africa Is a Country

Scottish Premiership 2021-22 Stats


“The 2021-22 Scottish Premiership season has come to an end. Rangers were the defending champions after stopping rivals Celtic winning a record tenth title in a row the previous year. However Celtic claimed the league trophy back after a 1–1 draw with Dundee United in May. It was still a successful season for Rangers however, with The Gers reaching the Europa League final and winning the Scottish Cup. At the wrong end of the table, St Johnstone maintained their top-flight status by winning the Premiership play-off final against Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Dundee were automatically relegated to the Scottish Championship. …”
The Analyst

Darwin Nunez vs Liverpool: Analysing the two games that wowed Klopp


“Darwin Nunez could become the most expensive signing in Liverpool’s history and his journey there has been seven years in the making. It was around 2015 when a Liverpool scout based in South America spotted the young Uruguayan striker playing for Penarol’s under-19s. Since then, Liverpool tracked Nunez’s progress as he went from making his debut in place of ex-Liverpool player Maxi Rodriguez for Penarol in November 2017 to his move to Almeria, in Spain’s second division, in 2019. …”
The Athletic (Video)
W – Darwin Núñez
NY Times: Soccer Rediscovers the No. 9
W – Erling Haaland

The disappearance of Wee Willie McLean: Solving America’s oldest soccer mystery


February 5, 1946. The entrance to Mount Pleasant Mental Health Center in Henry County, Iowa scales a gentle grade; a long, wide driveway passing through rows of oak trees, past manicured lawns and flowerbeds. If you’ve never been here, you’d assume you were entering the grounds of a botanical garden, or maybe an elegant estate. Then the facility’s main building comes into view, a brick-and-concrete goliath that eventually consumes your entire field of vision. It is cold, dark and imposing. Function over form, a warehouse for the unwanted. …”
The Athletic (Video)
W – Willie McLean (soccer, born 1904)

How Bournemouth Returned to the Premier League under Scott Parker


“AFC Bournemouth’s top-flight return arrives at an interesting moment in the club’s history. After earning promotion back to the Premier League at the second time of asking, the Cherries are hoping to pull off a surprise or two under Scott Parker in 2022-23. … Parker, still only 41, has made a significant impact at Bournemouth since arriving from Fulham last summer, introducing a new style of play to lift Eddie Howe’s shadow from the Vitality Stadium. …”
Breaking the Lines (Video)
W – Scott Parker

In Qatar’s World Cup Summer, the Mercury Rises and the Clock Ticks


“DOHA, Qatar — The sun comes up before 5 a.m. and immediately puts the entire city on convection bake. By lunchtime, the temperature has finished its methodical climb up the scale, from unusual through uncomfortable to unbearable and then, finally, to unhealthy. The wind off the bay offers no relief; in June in Doha, even the summer breeze blows hot. This was to be the summer the World Cup came to Qatar, an idea that seems as preposterous now as it did a dozen years ago, when the tiny Gulf country, let’s just say, acquired the hosting rights to soccer’s biggest championship. …”
NY Times

Jorge Luis Borges: “Soccer is Popular Because Stupidity is Popular”


June 2014: “… I don’t lose all my critical faculties, but I can’t help but love the World Cup even while recognizing the corruption, deepening poverty and exploitation, and host of other serious sociopolitical issues surrounding it. … In Argentina, as in many soccer-mad countries with deep social divides, gang violence is a routine part of futbol, part of what Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges termed a horrible ‘idea of supremacy.’ Borges found it impossible to separate the fan culture from the game itself, once declaring, ‘soccer is popular because stupidity is popular.’ …”
Open Culture
New Republic: Why Did Borges Hate Soccer? (June 2014)

Golden Games: The 50 greatest individual Premier League performances ranked


“In the breathless moments after the final whistle in the Premier League, a player is ushered into a makeshift interview suite, told he has been named the man of the match and invited to make grand, sweeping conclusions about the game and its significance. … Players know when they have played well or played badly, but over the course of 90-plus minutes of physical exertion and intense focus, in and out of possession, alternately going on instinct and making split-second decisions under pressure, they are rather unlikely to have considered their performance in any wider context. …”
The Athletic
The Athletic – Best Premier League performances: No 50, Jamie Vardy for Leicester City v Man Utd
The Athletic – Best Premier League performances: No 49, Wayne Rooney for Everton v Bolton

USMNT’s Memorable, Sloppy End to June Camp Gives Berhalter Much to Consider for World Cup


“The U.S. men’s national team ended its June international window, and its longest stretch of World Cup preparation, back where it set off on the road to Qatar. That September night in San Salvador, the U.S. was subjected to a raucous and deafening crowd that filled Central America’s largest stadium (despite pandemic limitations). There were fireworks during play, projectiles, and a motivated and energetic opponent. In short, the youthful visitors experienced a lot of what Concacaf has to offer. They escaped with a point and some valuable first-hand experience. On Tuesday night, with far lower stakes and amid rain-soaked conditions that somehow were significantly worse, the U.S. had to endure even more to earn yet another draw. …”
SI

Why Kylian Mbappe didn’t join Real Madrid


Kylian Mbappe is almost certainly now the highest-paid footballer in the world. In a saga that appeared to show Real Madrid as his favoured destination, Mbappe has recently signed a new deal at PSG, making him perhaps the most expensive player of all time. But why did he decide to stay? And how did this saga unfold? Written by Adam Crafton, illustrated by Henry Cooke.”
YouTube

Tragedy and triumph: the remarkable tale of Croatia’s first football steps


Croatia’s Davor Suker celebrates after scoring in the 1998 World Cup semi-final against France.
“Igor Stimac, a 54-year-old Croatian man usually full of laughter and love, begins to cry as his memories grip him in a world darkened again by a devastating war. The fleeting tears of the former footballer fall for Ukraine and its people. They have suffered in a way that reminds Stimac of everything his own country endured during the terrible Balkans conflict that surrounded its independence from Yugoslavia almost 30 years ago. It was a time when football gained a rare real-life significance as, out of bloodshed and carnage, Croatia’s defiant, gifted and fiercely intelligent players lifted their young nation by lighting up Euro 96 and then leading France in the semi-finals of the 1998 World Cup in Paris. …”
Guardian
Croatian and Serbian Hooligans: Football Foes Share Love of Hate (June 2020)

The Dust Settles: The Biggest Changes in Stats Perform’s Power Rankings Over the Course of this Season


“So that’s that. Another season in the books. Lots happened, but in some ways, lots stayed the same. As tends to happen, European football’s hierarchy tightened their stranglehold on silverware. Real Madrid, the very definition of footballing heritage, won their record 35th La Liga title and a 14th European Cup/Champions League. Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain continued their domestic league dominance. Elsewhere, it was a renaissance season for AC Milan, who won their first Scudetto in 11 years and returned to the Champions League for the first time since 2013-14. Forty-two years after winning the UEFA Cup in 1980, Eintracht Frankfurt won the famous trophy again, beating Rangers in the Europa League final. …”
The Analyst

Predicting the pass, in-game shape, player pressure: welcome to next gen of football analytics


“Football analytics continues to innovate. For many years there have been two branches of football data. One is event data, which logs everything that happens on the pitch, such as passes, shots, interceptions or tackles. The other is tracking data, which logs the locations of every player on the pitch at a rate of 25 frames per second — in case you needed clarification, that is a lot of rows on a spreadsheet across a 90-minute game. …”
The Athletic

Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich and the Bitter End


“Robert Lewandowski does not, in his own words, like to make “too much show.” He is, and always has been, a touch more impassive than the average superstar. He does not greet his goals, the ones that have come for so long in such improbable quantities, with a roar, or a leap, or a scream. Instead, he grins. For the really good ones, he might go so far as a beam. …”
NY Times

Elano: ‘It’s not money, it’s passion. It has made me see how beautiful football is’


“The former Brazil international Elano spent a glamorous 15-year playing career with teams such as Santos, Manchester City, Grêmio, Flamengo and Shakhtar Donetsk. High wages, powerful club infrastructures and stadiums packed with vibrant fans seemed worthy reward for the midfielder’s accurate passes and tackles, and his calming, reassuring presence. …”
Guardian
W – Elano

Chile Loses Bid to Replace Ecuador at World Cup


“Chile’s bid to have its South American rival Ecuador thrown out of soccer’s World Cup failed on Friday when a disciplinary panel at soccer’s global governing body rejected a claim that Ecuador had fielded an ineligible player in several qualification matches. The case involved the defender Byron Castillo, who Chile contended was not only born in Colombia but also three years older than is stated on the documents used to identify him as Ecuadorean. Chile’s soccer federation produced registry documents, including birth certificates, that it said supported its claim. …”
NY Times

Gavi’s contract impasse at Barcelona and the problem of too much football


“… Luis Enrique was speaking after Barcelona midfielder Pablo Martin Paez Gavira’s outstanding performance in last Thursday’s 1-1 UEFA Nations League draw with Portugal. Of course, you will know him as Gavi and the still just 17-year-old had been the game’s outstanding figure, showing tremendous personality and game intelligence to overshadow experienced Portuguese midfielders like Joao Moutinho and Bruno Fernandes. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Pitso Mosimane’s real fight is with his winning self


“Al Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane conjures up the image of an enraged bull when he is on the warpath. His deadly stare, menacing temper and sharp tongue pierce his detractors when he is cornered. But if you listen to him closely, and look at the bigger battle he is waging, an angry Mosimane is more like a matador. The anger that he flashes like a giant red cape for all to see conceals a deadlier weapon that you never see coming if you don’t watch closely. That weapon helps Mosimane control the narrative while many focus on the anger. …”
New Frame
W – Pitso Mosimane
W – Al Ahly SC

It’s the Bandinis 2022! The complete review of Serie A’s 2021-22 season


Serie A lost some stars, but the football on the pitch still sparkled. Without Cristiano Ronaldo, Romelu Lukaku, Achraf Hakimi, Gianluigi Donnarumma or Antonio Conte the league simply had to make do with one of its most compelling title races for decades. It ended as a duel between Milan and Inter, two halves of the same city, clubs who share a stadium and the black stripes on their shirt but are divided by the red and the blue. Rivals who have emerged together from a decade in the wilderness, reminding themselves and each other that this league did not always belong to that lot down the road in Turin. …”
Guardian (Video)
W – 2021–22 Serie A

Malo Gusto: Lyon’s new right-back is already a star and is being chased by clubs around Europe


“It has been a season of disaster for Olympique Lyonnais. The French side finished eighth in the league, accumulating just 61 points , the worst points haul since the 2013-14 season (except the 2019-20 season curtailed by Covid-19). Even though PSG restored their supremacy at the top, the fact that Lyon were eighth indicated their poor season especially after finishing fourth, the prevous year. However, they fared a little better in the Europa League, topping their group before being eliminated by West Ham United in the quarter-finals. …”
Foot the Ball
W – Malo Gusto

UEFA Nations League: What to look out for on Matchday 2


Raheem Sterling, England
“The third edition of the UEFA Nations League has kicked off. The first matchday is done, with five more to come ahead of the final tournament in June 2023. UEFA.com picks out the big fixtures from the Matchday 2 encounters. …”
UEFA Nations League (Video)

Cruel Twist Puts Wales in World Cup and Keeps Ukraine Out


“CARDIFF, Wales — When it was over, when the referee blew his whistle and the crowd roared and Ukraine’s dream of earning a place in this year’s World Cup was gone, most of its national soccer team dropped straight to the grass. A few players held their heads in their hands. The rest simply stared off into space. The scoreboard confirmed what, in that moment, even the Ukrainians themselves could scarcely believe: Wales 1, Ukraine 0. A World Cup qualifying journey laced with symbolism and spirit and national pride, an opportunity delayed three months by war with Russia and reaching its denouement on a day that had begun with explosions in Kyiv, the first direct airstrikes on the capital in a month, had ended not in triumph but in the cruelest of twists: defeat to Wales on an own goal scored by a Ukraine forward, Andriy Yarmolenko. …”
NY Times
Guardian: Kyiv locals put Ukraine’s defeat into context after World Cup near miss

‘They build an image of the enemy’ – France’s struggles to police football fans


“It might be of little consolation to the Liverpool fans, young and old, who were aggressively kettled, callously tear-gassed, arbitrarily struck with batons, cruelly denied entry to the stadium or viciously mugged on the day of the Champions League final, but there has been almost as much outrage in France over what happened at the Stade de France last weekend as there has been in the UK. Within hours of the game, and with the dust having barely begun to settle on Real Madrid’s 1-0 win, journalists and commentators from across the political spectrum were deploring the stark organisational failures that had led to the dangerous bottlenecks that were allowed to build up before the game and angrily denouncing the French government’s attempts to blame the travelling Liverpool supporters. …”
The Athletic

A Very Specific Risk


“It can be hard, at times like these, to know exactly who to believe. On one side, there are the thousands of witness accounts, the contemporaneous reports from much of the world’s news media, the countless videos and an apparently bottomless reserve of high resolution photographs, all telling one story about last Saturday’s Champions League final. And that was all it took. As soon as UEFA decided that the real problem with this sporting event was all the people who wanted to watch it, the — let’s keep the lawyers happy — misinformation spread and disseminated and infected everything it touched. From that point on, Liverpool’s fans were presumed guilty until proven innocent, not least by considerable portions of the people who should, really, have been their allies: other soccer fans. …”
NY Times

How Wydad Casablanca became the kings of Africa


30 May 2022: Wydad fans during the CAF Champions League final.
“As Wydad Casablanca and Al Ahly emerged from the subterraneous player tunnels at Stade Mohammed V, it was immediately clear that the visitors from Egypt stood virtually no chance in the CAF Champions League final in Morocco. That insight was not based on footballing analysis such as playing tactics, quality of personnel or coaching acumen. It was merely unimaginable that any group of players would be able to climb into that lion’s den and play through the palpable pressure emanating from the stands. …”
New Frame

Pulisic’s Quality Worthy of Applause as USMNT Accelerates Its World Cup Prep


“For the layman, it was extraordinary. For Christian Pulisic, it was expected. And once again, the margin of victory for the U.S. men’s national team could be measured, in part, by the distance between Pulisic’s ability and that of the average—or even exceptional—player. Amid the heat and humidity of FC Cincinnati’s TQL Stadium, and forced to work hard early by a Moroccan side as pressed for World Cup preparation time as the hosts, the U.S. men’s national team took a lead it never relinquished on another gorgeous, game-breaking play by Pulisic. …”
SI

A Premier League model beckons for Brazilian football


“For all the talk of samba football and Copacabana beach dudes juggling balls on the sand, Brazilian football is still largely anonymous to the rest of the world. Every four years, the media focuses on the Brazilian national team and expectation invariably exceeds reality – it is now 20 years since they won the World Cup, eight since they were humbled on their own turf by a rampant Germany. That’s international football, but what about Brazil’s domestic game, which despite exporting hundreds of players, is still something of a mystery? …”
Game of People
The Athletic: ‘Brazilian football has been in chains’ – Is this its Premier League moment?

Tallying the Costs, Shirts and All, of Missing the World Cup


.
“In those initial moments of agony in March after Nigeria was eliminated from qualification for this year’s World Cup, the most immediate thoughts of Amaju Pinnick, the president of Nigeria’s soccer federation, were of the disappointment being felt by his 200 million countrymen in Africa’s most populous nation. He needed only to look down on the scenes unfolding inside Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja, Nigeria, to see what it meant. Thousands of angry supporters had poured onto the field after the final whistle to vent their anger, knocking over the advertising boards, chasing the players from the field and clashing with security officers. …”
NY Times